Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that usually begin to emerge in your late teens or early 20s. However, in some cases, these teeth may not have enough space to grow normally and may partially erupt or become impacted. When this happens, a flap of gum tissue may form over the partially erupted wisdom tooth, which can cause pain, discomfort, and even infection. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the causes, symptoms, and treatment of an inflamed gum flap covering a wisdom tooth.
Why Does Wisdom Tooth Gum Flap Develop?
A gum flap over a wisdom tooth occurs when the tooth is partially erupted or impacted. This often happens because there isn’t enough space for the tooth to fully emerge, leading to the formation of a flap of gum tissue over it. This gum flap is known as an operculum.
This gum flap, dental operculum, can trap food particles and bacteria, leading to inflammation, infection, and pain.
Symptoms Of Inflamed Gum Flap Covering Wisdom Tooth
Pericoronitis is the inflammation of the gum flap (operculum) covering a partially erupted wisdom tooth. It can be categorized into acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term).
Symptoms of acute inflammation:
- Redness and swelling of the gums around the wisdom tooth
- Pain when chewing or swallowing
- Bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- Discharge of pus from the area near the wisdom tooth
Symptoms of chronic inflammation:
- Experience a mild and temporary achiness near your posterior teeth
- Experiencing a bad taste or breath
What are The Risk Factors for Pericoronitis?
The primary risk factor for pericoronitis is having an impacted or partially erupted wisdom tooth. However, several other factors can increase the risk of developing an inflamed gum flap (operculum):
- Poor oral hygiene: Bacteria and food particles accumulate around the gum flap covering a wisdom tooth, leading to inflammation and infection.
- Gum disease: People with gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) have a higher risk of developing an inflamed gum flap.
- Smoking: Cigarettes and other tobacco products can increase the risk of pericoronitis.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy or puberty.
- Poor nutrition: A poor diet can lead to a weakened immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight infection.
- Stress: Stress can weaken the body’s immune system and make it easier for bacteria to spread throughout the mouth.
Treatment of Inflamed Wisdom Tooth Gum Flap
Treatment of an inflamed gum flap (operculum) covering a wisdom tooth depends on the severity of the inflammation. Treatments may include:
- Professional teeth cleaning: Your dentist will clean the area near the wisdom tooth to remove any food particles, bacteria, and plaque.
- Antibiotics: Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics (e.g., amoxicillin) to help fight the infection
- Operculectomy: In some cases, the dentist may recommend surgical removal of the inflamed gum tissue flap. This procedure is known as operculectomy, which can be performed using a scalpel, electro-surgery, or laser.
- Tooth extraction: If the wisdom tooth is severely damaged or impacted, the dentist may recommend extracting it to prevent the recurrence of the dental operculum.
In conjunction with the treatments mentioned above, some home remedies may help reduce the symptoms of an inflamed gum flap (operculum):
- Good oral hygiene: Brush twice a day and floss every day to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles.
- Take OTC painkillers, such as ibuprofen, for pericoronitis pain relief and to reduce inflammation.
- Salt water rinse for pericoronitis: Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.
- Using antibacterial mouthwash: This can help reduce the bacteria in your mouth that may be contributing to the infection.
- Lifestyle changes:
- Quitting smoking: It can help reduce the risk of gum disease.
- Eating a healthy diet high in vitamins and minerals.
- Eating soft foods until the affected area is healed
- Reducing stress levels, which can affect your oral health.
By following these steps, you can help reduce the symptoms of an inflamed gingival operculum and maintain good oral hygiene. If your symptoms persist or worsen, contact your dentist immediately for further advice.
Wisdom Tooth Gum Flap – Conclusion
A wisdom tooth gum flap (operculum) can trap food and bacteria, causing inflammation and pain. If you experience swelling, pain, or bleeding in the area of your wisdom teeth, see a dentist right away.
The dentist may recommend a combination of professional treatments and home remedies to reduce inflammation and treat the inflamed operculum. The professional treatment may include surgical removal of the inflamed operculum or extracting the wisdom tooth.
Using home remedies in conjunction with, not in place of, professional treatment is crucial for optimal results. Additionally, a healthy lifestyle is important for maintaining oral health.